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Homicide Task Force: Process
To educate themselves on the key aspects of the homicide issue, the Task Force received presentations on the following topics.  These presentations are the sources for the data and information contained in this report:
 
The presentations were eye-opening for many of the task force members, even those who deal with some aspect of the problem on a daily basis. Examining the homicide issue from a variety of perspectives enabled task force members to see the "big picture" that homicide and violent crime are extremely complex social issues that cannot be dismissed as simply police problems. In the words of Task Force Chair Dianne English, "homicide is a problem, but it is not the problem. Homicide is a symptom of something deeper, more dangerous and more disturbing." In many cases, a homicide is the culmination of a cycle of violence for both the victim and perpetrator. The cycle was bred in poverty, abuse, low self esteem, minimal education, lack of employment opportunities, and, most alarming, a value system that glorifies violence and places little, if any, value on human life. By the time most victims and perpetrators come to the attention of the criminal justice system, it is too late-their fate had been sealed. 
 
Since homicides are increasing in many cities across the country, Charlotte is not the only city searching for a meaningful way to stem the tide. Rochester, New York Police Chief Cedric Alexander calls the violence a public health issue and likens it to that city's version of Hurricane Katrina. Charlotte's task force was intrigued with the success Boston had in reducing homicides in the late 1990's through Operation Cease Fire but disheartened to learn that Boston found it difficult to sustain its efforts, especially after grant funding ceased. Boston's homicides are now back to previous levels.
 
Police and the criminal justice system clearly have roles to play in homicide reduction. However, their efforts will not be successful unless they are reinforced by both a strong network of prevention and intervention programs and a community educated on the issue and committed to long term sustainable initiatives to reduce it.  The Task Force agreed strongly with Dr. Paul Friday who says that "the best crime policy is a strong social policy."